McConnell Discusses Senate Action on Threats from Overseas

‘…developments around the world continue to remind us that the safety and the interests of the American people are also threatened from beyond our shores.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding action the Senate has taken to protect the United States and its allies from harmful foreign actors:

“The Senate has been confronting issues of historic importance on the home front.

“Just since March, we sent historic resources to the healthcare fight against COVID-19 on a bipartisan basis. We passed the largest rescue package in American history on a bipartisan basis. We just passed a generational bill for our public lands on a bipartisan basis.

“Yesterday, the junior Senator for South Carolina introduced a major proposal to reform policing and promote racial justice.

“If our colleagues across the aisle can put politics aside and join us in a real discussion, then on this issue, too, we should be able to make law on a bipartisan basis.

“The Senate has led and is leading the way toward serious solutions.

“But at the same time, developments around the world continue to remind us that the safety and the interests of the American people are also threatened from beyond our shores.

“Two weeks ago, I explained how the Chinese Communist Party has used the pandemic they helped worsen as a smokescreen for ratcheting up their oppression of Hong Kong and advancing their control and influence throughout the region.

“It hasn’t stopped.

“At sea, they have stepped up their menacing of Japan near the Senkaku Islands.

“In the skies, Chinese jets have intruded into Taiwanese airspace four separate times in a matter of days.

“On land, for the sake of grabbing territory, the PLA appears to have instigated the most violent clash between China and India since those nations went to war in 1962.

“Needless to say, the rest of the world has watched with grave concern this violent exchange between two nuclear states. We are encouraging de-escalation and hoping for peace.

“But the world could not have received a clearer reminder that the PRC is dead-set on brutalizing people within their own borders, challenging and remaking the international order anew in their image — to include literally redrawing world maps.

“Of course, this is not exactly breaking news to any of us who have been paying attention.

“Earlier this year, the Senate passed legislation to give the Administration new tools to directly punish the CCP for its egregious treatment of the Uyghur people and the modern-day gulags it has constructed there in Xinjiang province. The President signed it into law yesterday.

“And going back to the U.S. - Hong Kong Policy Act which I wrote in 1992, the Senate has maintained a keen interest in the freedom and autonomy of our friends in that city.

“Unfortunately, Beijing has continued to tighten its grip there as well. More and more Hong Kongers find themselves facing an agonizing decision: Can they remain in the city they love, or must they flee elsewhere if they want their children to grow up free?

“As I have said often, every nation that cares about democracy and stability has a stake in ensuring that Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong carry consequences.

“I encourage the Administration to use the tools Congress has given it and to work with like-minded nations to impose those costs. But punishing the PRC cannot be our only priority. We also need to actively help the people of Hong Kong.

“Led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom says they’re preparing to offer visas to potentially millions of Hong Kongers. In addition to funding democracy programming and supporting legal assistance, we must also consider ways to welcome Hong Kongers and other Chinese dissidents to America.

“Chinese-Americans have formed part of the backbone of our nation for about two centuries now. Against headwinds of racial prejudice, Chinese immigrants literally helped build modern America as we know it.

“Generations of Chinese-Americans have enriched our society and fueled our economic prosperity.

“Not surprisingly, I am particularly partial to the Secretary of Transportation, whose parents fled Communist rule. She has gone on to serve her country across four presidential administrations, including as the first Chinese-American ever to serve in the Cabinet.

“If some of the same brave Hong Kongers who have stood up for liberty waving our American flag and singing our American national anthem would like to come here and join us, we should welcome them warmly.

“Of course, the Senate is not only acting with respect to China.

“Earlier this year, at my urging, the Senate enacted the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. And this week, the Administration is using these new tools to impose painful new sanctions on the brutal regime of Bashar Assad.

“With the help of Russian airpower, Iranian advisors, and manpower from Hizballah terrorists, Assad has recaptured military control of most of the territory he had lost during over nine years of civil war. But he has effectively destroyed his own country in this effort to save his regime.

“Assad faces renewed protests across the country, in-fighting within his regime and family, and a Syrian economy that is in free fall.

“Because of this Congress and this Administration, the cash flow to these butchers is going to shrink. And the price that leaders and businessmen in Tehran, Beirut, Cairo, Moscow, and Beijing will have to pay to do business with the regime will grow.

“These new steps will help us achieve our objective: Creating leverage for diplomats and our partners on the ground to negotiate a political solution and end the war.

“To maintain this pressure, we should keep our limited physical presence in Syria. We should work to bring our NATO ally Turkey back onto the right side. And we should preserve the deterrence that President Trump has rebuilt against Iran, to keep checking their influence in Syria and throughout the Middle East.”